Teens may be more vulnerable to the effects of concussions than either adults or younger children, a new study says.
In the study, teens had larger impairments on tests of working memory — the ability to process and store short-term information in the brain, which is needed for learning — six months after they suffered a concussion compared with adults and children.
The region of the brain responsible for working memory, known as the frontal lobe, undergoes a growth spurt during adolescence, making it more fragile and susceptible to the effects of concussions, said study researcher David Ellemberg, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Montréal in Quebec.
Deficits in working memory can impair a person's ability do everyday things, such as multitasking, Ellemberg said.
Teens between ages 13 and 16 who had experienced a concussion had worse working memory abilities compared with teens their age who had not had a concussion. This difference was not seen in children ages 9 to 12, or adults.
The study was published in the journal Brain Injury.